Australian jockey Ryan Wiggins will be looking to win consecutive Rockhampton Cups when he partners Peter & Will Hulbert’s Hail Manhattan in the $150,000 feature on Saturday.
After winning on Absolut Artie in 2020, Wiggins is now aiming to become the eighth jockey to win back-to-back Rocky Cups.
Hail Manhattan, a four-year-old gelding by Manhattan Rain, won the Listed Member’s Cup at the Sunshine Coast in February – the last time he raced over the mile.
This time in, the consistent galloper finished fourth behind Usmanov when fresh, before running less than five lengths off Away Game in the Group 3 Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm on June 26th, which looks good form for Saturday’s feature at Rockhampton.
While Wiggins has never partnered Hail Manhattan under race conditions, he has ridden him a few times at trackwork, including a final hit-out on Sunday morning on the dirt at Eagle Farm.
“When he missed the start on Saturday, Will (Hulbert) rang me and said we can get on the dirt on Sunday and give him a bit of a hit-out,” Wiggins told HorseBetting.com.au.
“It was good to give him a bit of a hit-out because he didn’t obviously work fast on Friday or Saturday and if he didn’t work Sunday, then he wouldn’t have been able to gallop him on Monday because they can tie up when they’ve had too many days off before a gallop.
“I’ve only sat on his back three or four times now at trackwork, leading up to his last run and obviously this run, but the horse is very laid back.”
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Hail Manhattan – currently an $8 chance with online bookmakers – has drawn well in barrier eight, which will allow Wiggins to have him in a handy spot throughout the mile feature.
“I’m probably on the right horse to win the race,” the jockey said.
“He’s had a bit of an interrupted prep because he missed his run the other day (Glasshouse Handicap), so now it’s straight from the 1200m to the mile which is not ideal, but the horse is going good and he’s working good which is the main thing.
“Can’t be happier with him apart from that but.”
Wiggins led all of the way on Absolut Artie in the 2020 Rocky Cup, and while he doesn’t expect to lead this time around, he does believe Hail Manhattan will be prominent in the run.
“He has led and won, that is an option, but I daresay he’ll race in that first half as he’s probably just a bit fresh,” he said.
“He’ll want to race a bit forward, which Rocky sort of suits most days.
“I ride the majority of my winners riding up front. I like taking the bull by the horns and going and doing my own thing up front because I know how fast I’m going.
“It’s funny though, it’s a big long straight there at Rocky, but at the end of the day it’s always been a track where you’ve sort of got to be in the first six or seven to win races which is strange.”
Wiggins has a strong following when he rides in Central and North Queensland, and there has already been some solid market support for his mount in the Rockhampton Cup betting markets.